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Volvo's C40 Recharge is a solid second stab at an EV

·Senior Editor
·5-min read

Volvo has made no secret of its plans to go green by 2030, first unveiling the XC40 Recharge SUV in 2019, then partnering with the Geely corporation to develop its performance EV Polestar line. And come early next year, the XC will be joined by a sleeker, curvier sibling dubbed the C40 Recharge. The C stands for coupe.

Understand, the XC40 and C40 are very much the same vehicle, at least under the hood. The two — along with the Polestar 2 — all share the same Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform that Volvo plans to build its future EV fleet on top of. As such, the C40 and XC40 offer literally identical performance profiles. They share a 78 kWh (75 kWh effective) battery pack which produces 408 HP and 486 lb-ft of torque across all four wheels, giving both cars a 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds, a 112 mph top speed and an estimated 210 miles of range.

Volvo C40 Recharge
Volvo C40 Recharge

And, like its predecessor, the C40 Recharge will do so at rates up to 150kW on an L3 DC charger, enabling it to refill its power cells from basically dead to 80 percent capacity in 40 minutes. The C40 Recharge can also accept power from Level 2 (220V) sources, requiring around 8 hours to fully charge. You can, technically, charge the C40 on a standard 110V outlet — Volvo includes an adapter for doing so standard — but the company is positioning that charging level as more of a trickle-charge, topping-off option than one for actually, fully refilling a completely depleted battery.

As a Volvo rep explained to Engadget on Wednesday, the company envisions drivers using Level 3 DC fast charging stations located along their commutes more as quick recharge points — stopping for 5-10 minutes at a time, grabbing a cup of coffee as they wait — while using an in-home L2 charger to fully replenish the charge overnight, like an drivable cell phone.

Volvo C40 Recharge
Volvo C40 Recharge

On the outside, the C and XC are easily discernible. While the XC40 adheres to the classic tenets of SUV styling, the C actually stands around 3 inches shorter overall and features a broadly curved roofline that falls away into an upturned spoiler — resulting in the coupe designation. I for one am smitten with the styling, especially the Fjord Blue paint scheme, which mimics the color of Sweden's local waters, as well as the all-glass roof.

The interior is even more impressive. For one thing, you won’t find a speck of leather in there. The floor mats are produced from recycled water bottles, as are the startlingly realistic faux-suede seats. “It's a very practical, sustainable solution, trying to get us away from traditional luxuries,” Volvo’s design rep told Engadget. “I think our future of luxury is more about the simplicity of something. Not, how many layers of wood and how many buttons you can have, it's more about the experience.” One unique aspect of that experience are the highlight panels that run throughout the C40 Recharge’s cabin, which depict topographical features of a Swedish national park.

Volvo C40 Recharge
Volvo C40 Recharge

The cabin itself is quite minimalist though you’ll find a host of storage spaces subtly placed around the front seats with slick holders for everything from travel mugs to credit cards. The dashboard consists of the front-and-center Android Auto infotainment system, a series of physical buttons and knobs controlling the audio playback, front and rear defrost, and hazards sit just below. While I personally am a fan of tactile controls, C40 drivers won’t have a whole much use for them on account of the ever-present Android Assistant. You’ll be able to control the stereo, make calls, send texts, adjust the climate controls and even turn on the heated steering wheel. The Assistant’s knack for locating and evaluating charging stations along your route should prove especially helpful to range-wary EV adopters, Volvo reps explained on Wednesday, by not only alerting drivers to where these stations are but also what kind of connections they offer and the status of the vehicle’s battery once it arrives.

Volvo has yet to officially announce its MSRP for the C40 Recharge so it’ll be interesting to see how it might compare to its expected competition, assuming the C40 ends up being priced roughly around $54,000 like its XC predecessor. For example the Model Y Long Range starts from $52,490 and gets a 100 miles-plus more distance using an equivalently sized battery pack. The Audi Q4 e-tron on the other hand manages to achieve the same range on a surprisingly tiny 52 kWh pack. To be fair though, its 0-60 is 9 seconds flat and they’re only for sale in Europe for the moment. Then you’ve got the ID.4 which starts at $40,000 and boasts 50 miles more range but, in my opinion at least, doesn't offer quite the same level of refinement that I saw in the C40 Recharge.

Volvo C40 Recharge
Volvo C40 Recharge

The C40 is expected to hit US streets in the first quarter of 2022 but it will not be available for sale through Volvo dealerships. You’ll be able to see them at the dealership, sure, as well as test drive them, pick yours up from there and get it serviced there if you buy one. However the purchase process itself happens exclusively online. You can reserve one today for $500 at the Volvo website.

This is but the second step in Volvo’s efforts to transition to EVs. The company plans to release a new electric model every year until 2025 as part of its larger goal of becoming completely carbon neutral by 2040. Rumored to be coming next: a fully-electric XC90 Recharge.

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